‘The egg’ – Lygia Pape, Rio de Janeiro, 1967.
‘Divisor’ – Lygia Pape, several cities, 1968-onwards.
Caetano Veloso wearing a ‘Parangolé’ by Hélio Oiticica featured in Marginalia – Rio de Janeiro, 1968.

Lygia Pape’s ‘The egg’ is to me the graphic version of Guy Debord’s Situationist ‘Dépassement de l’art’ in 1963. By the time that France was having the biggest uprising of its history in 1968, her living sculpture ‘Divisor’ was first performed in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, during the military dictatorship. A social sculpture (that Joseph Beuys only conceptualised in Germany in the 70’s) which was complete only with the participation of dozens of people bound together by a large white sheet as a unitary social body, and later performed in many other international cities.

She was the co-founder of the short-lived Neo-Concrete Movement in 1959 alongside Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica as primary leaders, and other socially-engaged avant-garde Brazilian artists emerging from Grupo Frente, who later inspired Tropicalismo. Rejecting the pure rationalist approach to concrete art, they embraced phenomenological participatory art involving psychoanalysis and radical politics to approach holistic health via several collective as well as one-on-one therapeutical proposals. They sought through participation to blur the limits between art and life, artwork and spectator, and the meaning of art/artist in itself.

Hélio Oiticica’s samba-inspired ‘Parangolés’ were sculptural garments that could only be activated worn by the body as part of public performances, often including explicit political messages.

I have no academic education in art, let alone ‘anti-art’, and I did not first approached my practice knowing about any former parallelism, so it is a massive pleasure to find them along the way.

by Cristina Morales